Tag Archives: Nature

Survive the Sound.

survivethesound

Biologists and conservationists constantly struggle with relating their data to a general audience.  The folks at Long Live the Kings, have gamified real-time fish tracking data on the steelhead running through Puget Sound, whose populations have declined dramatically over the past several decades.  Users “bet” on which fish will reach its spawning stream first, with proceeds going to benefit the nonprofit, which has spent the past three decades restoring native trout and salmon to the Pacific coast.  Sign up individually or create a team by May 6th to get in on the action.

Monday Video: DPD nymph.

DPD Nymph from Tightline Productions~T. Flagler on Vimeo.

Book Review: For the love of rivers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

…so what is it you do, exactly?  Colorado State’s Kurt Fausch tackles the question in his book For the Love of Rivers.  In Fausch’s case, how aquatic communities of fish and invertebrates are structured, how they are linked to terrestrial ecosystems, and how humans alter those linkages.  It’s thoughtful, and messy- if scientists knew how to answer these questions they’d already be answered- and sometimes the solutions seem absurd, like fixing plastic greenhouses over creeks to understand the importance of streamside insects to native trout.  But understanding how these systems work helps us fix them when they break.  Fixing them when they break ensures our children have the same opportunities our parents provided us.  Fausch’s book is a must-read for those interested in field biology generally, for those interested in field biology as a career, and perhaps most importantly- as a primer in how to engage and interest the public in field research that contributes to the health of their environment.

Image

Last of the snow.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Improvements.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It looks nicer than it did a decade ago when Pop was running cattle in the woods and in the stream.  Once he quit dwarf larkspur and Jack in the Pulpit appeared on thenorth-facing slopes; Solomon’s Seal that used to grow only five or six inches before being nubbed down by teeth now grew fronds three and four feet tall.

Streams take longer.  Banks heal slowly from hoof wounds.  Time works sand from between pebbles in fast water, making room for mayflies and stoneflies and the monstrous, demonic-looking larvae of dobsonflies- hellgrammites.  Go-devils, stone-devils. Grampus- my favorite- the hill country corruption of a medieval monster which carried away children in the night.

Butterflies are easy to love.  Grampus need a little context.  Their parents drop them off in cottony white cases on boulders, overhanging branches- bridge abutments and spans if nothing else is available- where they’ll hang out until the summer clouds build, lightning crackles, barometric pressure drops- and they’ll wriggle out, dropping the rising spate.  Brilliant.

They drift to the fast water, among cobbles and boulders.  The underside of their abdomen is lined with feather gray gills- they need the turbulence of that swift water to survive.  They spend years among the stones on the bottom of a stream, hunting other insects, before crawling back to shore where they’ll dig into soft soil along the bank, transforming to the winged adult, repeating a process 250 million years old.

They’re delicate, linking land and water.  They need streamside woodlands for their eggs and adults and to provide cool, oxygenated water for their young.  They need clean, clear, healthy water, without sediment or insecticides or pollutants- for years, as their young feed and grow.

It’s a good sign.  There are other good signs, namely the gaudy darters spawning in shallow, cobble-bottomed section.  The stonerollers, done up in bright colors and studded with white bumps like scattered pearls.  There’s other things- spiraled shells of ramshorn snails, wax-colored cases of fingernail clams, the chubby fathead minnow and the green sunfish I scare from a half-submerged rootwad, all pointing to the changes farm ponds in the watershed have made on the stream.

It isn’t perfect.  By no means pristine.  But it’s certainly an improvement.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Monday Video: Cal-Trout habitat restoration.

Gallery

March.

This gallery contains 7 photos.